The first public meeting about the 2020 reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue happened yesterday, Wednesday, February 17th. The meeting was a presentation by Public Works and welcomed questions, concerns, and opinions from the public on the upcoming project. There were 30 to 40 attendees at the 4pm presentation (there was a repeat presentation at 5pm).
Simon Blenski, a lead planner on the project, presented the current state of the Hennepin Avenue Reconstruction Project that is scheduled to take place in 2020. The goal of the project for 2016 is to pull together a concept design approved by the City Council, which will then be used to apply for a federal grant for the project. The federal grant could account for almost half of the $15.6 million project. Detailed design and engineering elements will not be completed for the concept design this year. The reconstruction will stretch from Washington Ave to 12th St.
While this project won't go past 12th Street and connect to Loring Park, a protected bikeway on this stretch will still provide a number of connections up and down Hennepin to theaters, restaurants, the library, and other destinations in the heart of Downtown; a major improvement for bicycle infrastructure in this area.
The priority for now is to express what is important to you about Hennepin Avenue and to encourage others to do so as well. Public engagement for the concept is happening now. In order to develop a design that is representative of our community, public works needs to and wants to hear what is important to you. If you weren’t able to come out to the meeting, contact Simon Blenski ([email protected]) with a short blurb about what needs should be served on Hennepin.
Currently, the city is considering these four conceptual points:
A sidewalk area able to support pedestrian activities with space for planting and furnishing zones.
A space for enhanced transit stops compatible with future Arterial Bus Rapid Transit service.
A protected bikeway separated from motor vehicle traffic.
A roadway design that is able to maintain an acceptable level of service for transit and motor vehicles along Hennepin. (The avenue is assumed to remain as a two-way street)
Simon presented the proposed plan as a way to accomodate all modes of transportation that Hennepin Ave currently serves. He used data of daily trips to support the proposed plan. On any given day, 1,300 bikes use Hennepin Ave to get in to and through downtown, and with a protected bikeway added to this street, there is no doubt that these numbers would increase.
The plans will need to be approved by the City Council in May of this year so that the application for the federal transportation grant can be submitted in June. In the meantime, a review of the concept alternatives will occur at a second public meeting in March or April followed by the city sharing the preferred concept in advance of submission of the federal grant in May. Blenski is confident the project will receive the grant because of the significance of Hennepin Avenue to the City of Minneapolis.
Since the concept design will need to be approved by the City Council, it is important to contact them as well (The reconstruction is in Wards 3 and 7). Reach out to your local elected officials and let them know how important it is for our community to build infrastructure that works for all users.
You can find out more about the project and sign up for email updates on the project website here: http://www.minneapolismn.gov/cip/future/WCMSP-172270
Again, if you were not able to attend the meeting to share your thoughts on the proposed project, please take a moment to email Simon Blenski with your thoughts as the City continues to work on the plan.